Section: Features

Spicing up Mount Vernon: where naan meets pita

Spicing up Mount Vernon: where naan meets pita

by Cora Markowitz

Peirce got you down? Looking for something a little more exotic than an omelet with salsa? Look no further than Mount Vernon. It’s no Mount Olympus, but Zeus himself wouldn’t turn down the chicken kebabs and hot-out-of-the-oven pita bread at Bombay Garden and Greek Eats.

Though many Kenyon students know about the existence of this popular restaurant — especially because it delivers — the circumstances behind its  combination of Indian and Greek cuisine have been a mystery.

Bombay Garden and Greek Eats originated in the town of Heath, about 50 minutes from Mount Vernon.

“There used to be two restaurants side by side; one side was Greek, the other side was Indian, so they decided to bring it together and make it as one restaurant, and it started working very well,” The owner of the Mount Vernon restaurant, Kujtim Topalli, said.

With business booming in Heath, the owner, Ameet Singh, a friend of Topalli’s, asked him to manage a new Bombay Garden and Greek Eats location in Mount Vernon in 2008. In the same year, Topalli bought the Mount Vernon restaurant.

Topalli is neither Indian nor Greek, but Albanian, further adding to the restaurant’s cultural mélange. In fact, none of the workers at Bombay Gardens and Greek Eats are Indian or Greek.

“I grew up with the restaurant back home, so I was used to it. First I learned the spices, the Indian spices, and got into it, then I learned about their culture. It was very easy once I learned the spices,” Topalli said. “The main difference [between Greek and Indian food] is the spices; it’s a big difference.”

“I changed everything in the kitchen, everything in the dining room, cleaned it out, changed the booths and changed the recipes a little bit … it was a big change,” Topalli said.

The work that Topalli did after buying the restaurant was not in vain.

“Kenyon College people come, people come a lot from a town called Upper Valley, and we started getting some local people. In this town a lot of people don’t know much about Indian food and Greek food,” Topalli said.

Though the restaurant does some advertising, they mostly rely on word of mouth to attract new customers.

The most loyal customers of all are Kenyon students.

“They really support this restaurant. I just want to let them know, everything we make, we make fresh, and we deliver to them. We really appreciate their business,” Topalli said.

Having two menus filled with two countries’ worth of food gives Topalli double the choices for his own meals. But Topalli’s two favorites items on the menu are both Indian.

“One is tandoori [chicken] and another one is vegetarian, it’s baingan burtha — it’s eggplant cooked in curry sauce and it’s really, really good,” Topalli said.

Bombay Garden and Greek Eats is open Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Friday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 9: 30 p.m. The restaurant is located on Coshocton Avenue. Take-out orders can be placed by calling 740-397-0972. They will deliver to campus. Also, order the spanakopita and saganaki. There will be no regrets. 

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